Sometimes leaders forget that respect is a two-way street. If you want or expect respect from your direct reports, then you should respect them. And whether or not you respect them will be evident in your actions – or perhaps more importantly, your lack of actions.
Marius Pretorius and Ingrid le Roux (2012) recently published a study, “A Reality Check for Corporate Leaders: When Managers Don’t Respect Their Bosses” in the journal Strategy & Leadership. They surveyed middle managers in the banking industry of South Africa. I think their results are applicable to most organizations. They concluded:
“The main insight for managers who want to develop their leadership potential is that they are as likely to be judged by what they do not do, rather than what they do . . . managers not recognizing subordinates’ contributions and not sharing information with them.”
Part of conversations about leader and leadership development should include the perceived effects of not listening to subordinates, failure to give feedback, failure to acknowledge contributions. Respect nurtures respect. Respect cannot be directed. Only earned.